5 Essential Elements For Staying Present
No matter how much we talk about it, read about it, or study it, putting a mindfulness practice into practice can be challenging. But what are we to do? Science and practice continues to reveal that an active practice has important health benefits, relational benefits and even corporate benefits (increased productivity and reduced health care costs). Sometimes all we need is a simple road map to get us started or restarted if it’s been some time since we practiced.
Here are five essential elements to creating a mindfulness meditation practice in daily life.
Before even attempting to do any practice it’s important to understand that your practice is not a performance. Each practice doesn’t need to be evaluated about whether it was a “good” meditation or a “bad” meditation. This performance-based mindset misses the point entirely. If there is any goal at all to the practice it’s simply to learn.
For example, if someone is using their breath as an object of attention, the goal is not to stay on the breath for a long period of time, it’s to learn about what it’s like to settle attention on the breath. If the mind wanders a lot, then you learn how busy the mind is. If it wanders a lot on a particular topic, you learn to what degree that topic is on your mind. If it is on your mind a lot you learn that whatever it is, it needs attending to and you can later make the choice to focus on it.
Everyone’s mind wanders, even people who have been meditating for 50 years. It’s part of what the brain does. In fact, you could make the argument that the more it wanders the more you have an opportunity to train the mind to see “choice points” to gently bring it back. What you practice and repeat becomes a habit and so you’re strengthening the habit of choice.